Blue climbed the stairs of Monmouth and banged on the door. She knew Gansey was in Virginia and Adam was picking up an extra shift to cover the cost of college applications but she had the afternoon off and couldn’t sit around in the chaos that was 300 Fox Way anymore. She was holding on to hope that Noah might be around because she was knitting something with a glittery wool that she thought he would love. The lack of answer at the door made her think that he wasn’t around, or if he was he wasn’t entirely corporeal which had been the case a lot lately. That worried Blue but she couldn’t think of anything right now that would help so she ignored the gnawing feeling and hammered on the door. This time it only took a few seconds before she heard some banging and stomping and then Ronan appeared on the other side of the door. He didn’t look surprised to see her and turned and walked back to the lie on the sofa, so she took that as an invitation to join him. She shoved his feet from one end so she could sit and he lifted his feet back up to rest them on her lap, probably just out of stubbornness. She shrugged and let him, pulling her knitting out of her bag.
“The fuck is that supposed to be?” Ronan asked, which was quite frankly more engagement in conversation than she had expected out of Ronan when she realised he would be the only one there.
“It’s going to be a scarf. Or a hat, it depends on how much wool I have.”
“Is Noah here? I wanted to show him.”
“No.” Ronan was silent for a few seconds. “I haven’t seen him in a few days.
Blue hummed. She recognised the same fear in Ronan’s voice that she felt herself about Noah.
“When you see him tell him I have something for him.”
Ronan snorted. “Yeah, something is right.”
“Oh, bite me.” Blue stuck out her tongue. Ronan rolled his eyes and pulled his headphones over his ears. She guesses this was the reason Ronan didn’t answer the door at first, and then considers the highly likely possibility that he heard it and ignored it anyway. She went back to her knitting and was glad for the few minutes peace to actually be able to think. She loved the chaos of Fox Way, but sometimes she was overwhelmed by how much noise there was in her life. Monmouth had become a respite from all of that.
Half an hour of knitting passed in peaceful silence, only the tinny sound of music leaking from Ronan’s headphones and his occasional finger tapping filling the space, and Blue had decided that she was definitely making a scarf. She hadn’t realised that Ronan had fallen asleep until she felt his entire body freeze beside her, his feet digging into her legs. She looked over to find his eyes open but the rest of his body unable to move, and watched as a ball of wool appeared in his right hand, the exact shade of the ball currently in her lap. She grinned, both fascinated by the scene before her, which she had only seen a few times before, and by the uncanny resemblance between her wool and Ronan’s. She realised he was able to move his body again when the ball of wool hit her in the face.
“Now you can make two, and you and Noah can match. A little pair of ragdolls.”
Blue was actually touched by his thoughtfulness, because she knew Noah would absolutely love the idea of matching glittery scarves, and she knew Ronan knew that too. But he couldn’t do something nice without being snarky, and she knew that too so she rolled her eyes.
“Maybe I’ll have enough to make a third one and I’ll give it to you for Christmas.”
She rolled her eyes and continued knitting for a few minutes, but she could feel Ronan’s restlessness now. She wasn’t surprised when he sat up and grabbed his car keys. She was surprised however to hear him say, “Come on, let’s go for a drive.” She had never been invited on one of Ronan’s exclusive drives before. She shrugged.
“Can I borrow your phone to tell everyone I know that it was nice knowing them?”
Ronan smirked, and Blue felt remarkably pleased with herself. Until she realised that Ronan’s smirk and his restlessness really did not bode well for his passenger. Her mother had let her go out today though so she guessed she hadn’t foreseen her death in a fiery car wreck, and shrugged. What did she have to lose?
She pulled her seatbelt on as soon as she was in the car, and saw Ronan roll his eyes. She had been in Ronan’s car a few times, although never in the passenger seat, but when they were all together Gansey usually took the Camero. She stretched her legs out and marvelled at the room she had to do so, resenting the fact that Gansey loved the damn Camero so much when this car was clearly more suited to seating 2 passengers, never mind 5. Then she thought of all their secret night drives and the feeling disappeared. It was a distant memory as Ronan swerved in a dangerous circle out of the Monmouth lot, and she grabbed the safety bar on the roof. Ronan let out what could only be called a cackle, but as they moved onto the highway out of Henrietta he resumed driving normally, just very fast, and she relaxed into her seat a little. The car radio was, for once, not blasting music at an unbeatable level and looking at the mountains out the window she thought she could understand why Ronan and Gansey liked driving around so much.
“Where are we going?” Blue asked.
Ronan didn’t answer, so she took that to mean that he didn’t care and started suggesting places.
“Gansey’s not here, you don’t have to suck up.”
Blue bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself biting back something rude because fighting with Ronan was like yelling at the rain to stop - it wasn’t going to do anything productive.
“We could go visit Adam at work.”
She saw Ronan glance at the clock on the dashboard. “He’s not at the garage and the factory doesn’t technically allow visitors.”
Blue raised her eyebrows at Ronan’s quick response, but Ronan stared unapologetically back. He had never said anything about his feelings for Adam, but he hadn’t technically made it a secret that he had more time for him than anyone else. Blue wondered if Adam knew. Then something Ronan had said clicked.
“Hey, what do you mean they don’t technically allow visitors?”
Ronan grinned a sharklike grin and pushed a little more on the gas pedal. Blue wasn’t going to get an answer to that. “Oh! I know where we could go. There’s a big sunflower patch, I think it’s up this way. Orla mentioned it last week, but I’m not really sure where it is exactly.”
Ronan glanced over at her. He seemed to be thinking it over, and then he hummed, barely audible. Blue took that to mean either yes, or possibly nothing at all. She knew she wouldn’t get another chance to drive an hour outside of Henrietta just to wander round a giant patch of sunflowers before they were all cut or dried out, so she watched out the window for a sign of some sort, not really knowing what she was looking for. She was easily distracted and when she saw crows flying overhead she turned to Ronan.
“Did you know a group of crows is called a murder of crows?” Blue asked him.
He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Of course you did, you’re so weird. How did you come up with the name Chainsaw?” she asked. This had been something she’d wondered about many times before, but never considered actually asking.
“That’s what she sounded like when she was a baby.” Ronan’s voice was soft, but Blue valued her life too much to mention it.
Suddenly, with no prior warning Blue could discern, Ronan swerved violently into a lane Blue hadn’t noticed until they were on it. It was a winding country lane that led into an open field with a few cars parked. Beyond that, fields and fields of sunflowers that Blue could already guess were taller than her. The only way Ronan could have spotted this lane at the speed he was going was if he already knew where it was. Blue was too happy that he actually brought her here to ask.
He came to a violent stop beside the other cars that were parked and Blue jumped out of the car, almost vibrating with excitement.
“I regret this already,” Ronan said, slouching past her. She let out a loud laugh, and a few seconds later he gave in and chuckled. “I only brought you here to prove that you are irrationally small.”
“There is no such thing as a rational height!” Blue said, sounding indignant despite the broad smile on her face. She was looking ahead at the fields, bouncing up and down onto her toes. Ronan rolled his eyes and led the way to a wooden stall with a sign saying ENTRANCE $4. Blue paused to root around in the many pockets of her yellow cargo pants, knowing her tips from Nino’s were in ons of them, but before she could pull so much as a quarter out Ronan had thrown a $20 at the woman smiling at them and walked on without his change. The woman explained to Blue that the money went to the upkeep of the fields and the rest was donated to a local animal shelter, so when she reached over to hand Blue the change, Blue shrugged and handed it back to her. “He didn’t hang around for it, so I’m guessing he doesn’t want it! Have a nice day!” Blue called, already hurrying to catch up with Ronan. As expected he didn’t ask for any change. She wondered if he’d even know what bill he gave the woman and decided not to think about that because she was getting on well with Ronan today, and he had just paid her entrance after all.
The reached the sunflowers and Blue was delighted to find that they dwarfed not only her, but Ronan as well. She pulled his phone from her pocket, having lifted it from the centre console of his car when she was getting out. She took a picture of him walking in front of her, and hearing the shutter click he turned round, frowning grumpily. Blue laughed and just took another picture of him, finding the sight of Ronan’s frown in a sea of sunflowers, some of which stood two or three feet above his head, absolutely hilarious.
“Didn’t peg you for a thief.”
“I asked if I could use it earlier and you didn’t say no. Anyway, I’m not stealing, I’m borrowing.”
Ronan blew air out through his mouth, but he was smiling now so she knew he didn’t really mind. She had learned her lesson and now turned off the sound, so when she caught a picture of him smiling he didn’t notice.
All of a sudden she was lifted off the ground and found herself sitting on Ronan’s shoulders. She hurumphed haughtily at being literally manhandled, but after a few seconds surprise at the fact that Ronan could lift her up so easily and a few more seconds surprise that he would even try to lift her up, she started laughing. The smile that split her face was one of pure joy as she took in the huge sunflowers that continued for metres in every direction. She was snapping pictures happily and prodding Ronan which direction she wanted to go in when suddenly she was flailing for something to hold on to as he started running unevenly through the walking trail. He didn’t even have hair for her to grab onto so her hands reached desperately at his face and she squealed as she felt him lick the palm that had unfortunately landed between his mouth and nose.
“RONAN LYNCH YOU ANIMAL SLOW DOWN IM GOING TO FALL TO MY DEATH”
This only made Ronan laugh loudly and pick up the pace until they reached a circular clearing in the middle of the sunflower patch where he deposited her none too gently on the ground and collapsed beside her, panting heavily.
“What in the world possessed you?” she asked, shoving his shoulder.
He laughed again, and it crossed her mind that this was the most relaxed she had seen Ronan outside the presence of his brother Matthew since she didn’t know when. He was rarely this wild and carefree even in Cabeswater. She wondered briefly if the was the Ronan Lynch of Before that Gansey sometimes talked about. She let out a long sigh.
“I wonder if this is what it’s like to be a normal teenager without a curse and living dreams and a magical forest and a dead king to think about every day,” she mused aloud.
“Boring,” Ronan grunted, and she couldn’t help but laugh.
“You’re probably right. It’s fun for an hour or two, but what would we talk about if it wasn’t for Gansey domineering every conversation with Glendower.” She said the last word in a hushed, reverent sounding voice that got a snort from Ronan. The Blue that had wanted Ronan’s approval at the beginning of their friendship, and the little part of her that had never stopped, was proud of herself for managing to make him laugh multiple times in one day.
“We’d have to find some local gossip.”
“I wouldn’t be cursed. I could talk about kissing boys.”
“You could talk about kissing boys.”
There was a pause in which Ronan raised his eyebrows and challenged her stare. She didn’t look away.
It felt like a victory that he was still holding her gaze, and that he hadn’t denied anything.
“We could all talk about our deep-rooted daddy issues,” Ronan suggested, giving in and playing her game.
Blue snorted so hard that she choked on her own laugh and spluttered for a few minutes before she regained some composure. Ronan looked viciously pleased with himself.
“What a damaged bunch we all are,” she replied finally. Ronan made a sound of easy agreement. He sighed and threw his hands under his head, closing his eyes and taking in the sun. She could already see his pale Irish skin turning a faint pink.
“You’re getting sunburnt. Don’t you have any sunscreen?”
Ronan opened one eye long enough to give her a scathing look, and she rolled her eyes and moved to sit up beside him. She let her thoughts wander and they ended up where they always did. Gansey. Her curse. Gansey. Briefly worried about Adam. Drifted to consider Ronan. Back to Gansey. She sighed sadly without realising.
“Go on then,” Ronan said from the ground.
Blue startled out of her own thoughts.
“What?” she asked.
“You can talk about kissing boys. Or not kissing boys,” he said. His tone was dismissive and almost rude, and Blue was about to get defensive before considering that Ronan could only do nice things if they were tinted by rudeness so as not to lose his reputation as resident Asshole™️ of the group. She looked at him again, his gently frowning face tilted towards the sky, eyes closed. It struck her that out of everyone, Ronan was probably the most likely to actually understand her predicament. She couldn’t pinpoint what about their situations was actually similar, but she guessed that spending all your free time with the one person you wanted to kiss more than anything and knowing that it was probably never going to happen meant they had at least some shared feelings about their friends.
She lay down beside him again and was quiet for a few minutes.
“Did you and Gansey ever kiss?”
There was silence for a few seconds and then Ronan replied, eyes still closed, “That is not what I meant when I said you could talk about kissing boys.”
She thought about this and sat up. “That didn’t answer the question at all.” Ronan still said nothing. “Oh my god,” she said.
“Don’t blaspheme,” Ronan replied.
“I can’t believe this.”
“Then why did you ask the question?” Ronan asked, finally opening his eyes and turning his head to look at her.
“It just popped into my head. I never considered that the answer might be yes.”
Ronan bristled. “Because Gansey’s straight?”
Blue considered this. She noted that this was as close as she assumed Ronan would ever come to actually coming out and wondered how many people actually got to know this much about him. “Because Gansey’s ... Gansey.” The silence returned for longer this time. “I mean he’s the definition of Young Republican.” This got a loud snort out of Ronan.
“And yet you’re in love with him,” he replied.
“And yet I’m in love with him.” She said it with a loud sigh, and felt a little jolt to the heart at finally saying it out loud to someone. Ronan’s face softened.
“Would you like the graphic details? I can flesh out your fantasy make-out sessions if you’d like?”
He was teasing now, tone offhand and lighthearted. She knew he was lightening the mood and was glad. But that didn’t mean she would let it go.
“Oh fuck off, I have better things to do with my time than fantasise about Richard Campbell Gansey the Third.” Blue thought that maybe that was not the whole truth.
“That’s a dirty lie and you know it,” Ronan said, reading her mind.
“Piss off,” she said, shoving his shoulder, and he laughed. “Don’t be a hypocrite.”
Ronan stopped laughing and frowned at her.
“I do not fantasise about kissing Dick Gansey Three.”
Blue heard what he was not saying. I do not fantasise about kissing Dick Gansey Three anymore. And also, I do not fantasise about kissing Gansey because I’m too busy fantasising about kissing Adam Parrish. She did not mention this.
“Ok. Give me the graphic details then.”
Another classic Ronan snort.
“There are very few graphic details to give.” He paused but she waited patiently. “The year before last, before I knew you existed - simpler times you understand - and when Parrish was barely an acquaintance of Gansey’s, I spent a lot of nights getting very drunk.”
Blue hummed. She’d heard bits and pieces from the boys about the time before she’d known them. All she really knew about the time immediately after Niall Lynch’s murder is that Ronan was very angry and very drunk a lot of the time.
“And Gansey had to stop me from doing something stupid, like crashing my car into Kavinsky’s POS Mitsubishi when I was too drunk to drive. And some nights I just needed a different distraction.” Ronan shrugged. “Sometimes that meant connecting the speakers and blasting music so loud the glass shook in the windows. Sometimes it meant pushing everything out of the way and dragging the old punchbag up the stairs. And sometimes it meant lying on the couch making out with Gansey. It was very platonic.”
Blue nods sagely. “I platonically make out with people all the time.”
“So Noah tells me,” Ronan replied. Blue sat up very quickly, cheeks flushing red.
“That was... I never... I didn’t know Noah told you that.”
Ronan was smirking now. After the pain on his face moments ago it was a little relieving to see. She shoved his shoulder. “I can’t imagine Gansey and you making out.”
“Can’t you? It’s very hot. I give you my permission to fantasise about it.”
Blue’s cheeks flamed but she replied indignantly, “I told you I have better things to do with my time.”
“He’s a good kisser. Very gentle. I know that’s what you’re too proud to ask.
“So’s Noah,” Blue said, because she didn’t know what else to say.
Ronan just raised his eyebrows at her. “I know.”
She let her jaw drop open at that. “Ronan Lynch!”
He let out a cackle, and the tension from before dissipated from the air.
“I can’t believe you get more action than I do,” Blue said. Ronan laughed.
“You wouldn’t have any problem if you weren’t cursed.”
“Yeah, it’s just that one little issue, thanks for the reminder!” Blue’s tone was sharp.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I know.” She thought about the fact that Ronan was not cursed and still couldn’t kiss the boy he wanted to. “I’m sorry, it’s a sore spot.”
Ronan’s voice was soft when he answered.
And for once she didn’t feel like getting angry. She didn’t feel like defensively telling him that he did not know what it was like growing up with a curse that meant you might never get to love who you wanted. She thought - maybe - Ronan did know.
They were silent for a long time.
“You don’t have to answer this.” That was enough to make Ronan’s body tense beside her. “You’re a Catholic.”
“Is that the question?”
He knew it wasn’t. She knew he knew it wasn’t. He didn’t add anything else.
“Does it help? Believing in God? Or does it make it worse?”
The silence stretched on for long enough that Blue has accepted that Ronan didn’t plan to answer her without more prodding, but she wasn’t going to push anymore. Ronan’s religion was his business and it wasn’t for her to go making assumptions.
He sighed deeply.
“I don’t think I ever really thought about it until a year or two ago. I always thought - I figured. Because of what I can do...“ he trailed off.
“You mean, the dreaming?” Blue asked. She could almost guess where this was going. She wanted to meet the young little Ronan who thought this gift was his damnation and hug him.
“I figured it didn’t matter that I was gay if I was going to hell anyway.”
And that was too much for Blue. She leaned over and put her head on his chest, patting his arm gently.
“Ronan.” Her voice was gentle but stern.
He sighed. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
“You are potentially the biggest asshole I know,” she said.
“Wow. You’re so good at comforting people.”
“Shut up. You’re definitely the biggest asshole I know. But you’re also a good person. I believe that whatever happens after we die, you’re no more damned than the rest of us.”
It wasn’t necessarily comfort, but the sheer truth of what she was saying was clear in her voice. And Ronan actually smiled. Not the smirk, not the cruel, sharp grin, not even the teasing, playful smile she got earlier running through the sunflowers. He was just smiling. Blue smiled back at him.
“For the record, I think Adam would be lucky to have you.” And there it was, acknowledged out loud between the two of them.
Ronan gave her a derisive snarl.
“Ok, you’re right. You would be lucky to have Adam.”
Ronan’s face softened to almost blank. Almost. He looked away from her.
“I don’t think it’s as impossible as you think.” She was reluctant to say anything to him that might not be true, but she wasn’t lying. Ronan said nothing. “You know as well as I do that he might as well be impossible to read. I can almost never tell what he’s thinking... but then sometimes...”
She looked at Ronan. He was frowning. He looked angry. He also looked sad and hopeful and like the anger was just a front. But Blue needed him to drive her home so she decided that she would not like the bear.
“He’s impossible to read, I’m not trying to say I know how he feels. But I think you should talk to him.”
“You and I both know he like girls.”
Ronan was back to looking at the sky. Resolutely not meeting Blue’s eyes.
“We do. We don’t, however, know that he only likes girls.”
Ronan looked back at her and she saw every thought in her head reflected back in the one glimmer of hope Ronan somehow held onto. “Talk to him, that’s all I’m saying.”
“I don’t talk.”
Blue rolled her eyes. “Of course, I forgot I’d been talking to myself all afternoon.”
“Not the first time, I’m sure.”
Blue stuck her tongue out at him.
She stood and brushed the hay from her cargo pants. She reached out a hand and was only a little surprised when Ronan actually took it. She should have been less surprised when he used it to yank her back to the ground before pushing himself to his feet and continuing through the sunflower patch. She rolled her eyes and followed him.